SHERIDAN — What started out as an investigation of a deer poaching incident ended up with a Sheridan area man receiving a felony firearms possession conviction.
In July, Benjamin Medina, 58, originally from Brighton, Colorado, was ordered to pay $500 in fines and was sentenced to be imprisoned for 15 years by the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.
The illegal poaching investigation began with an anonymous tip to the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office and Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. The SCSO then contacted Wyoming Game and Fish Department Sheridan Regional Wildlife Investigator Scott Adell who obtained a search warrant from Sheridan Circuit Court Judge Shelley Cundiff for the Sheridan residence of Medina.
The search of the residence revealed that Medina was in possession of multiple parts from big game, small game, game birds, raptor feathers and multiple firearms, including one firearm that had been reported stolen, a loaded handgun and a Bushmaster military style rifle. As a convicted felon from the state of Colorado, Medina was in violation of federal law for possession of firearms. The seized firearms were subsequently transferred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“Mr. Medina took one buck mule deer after the season was closed, and an additional buck deer while trespassing,” Adell said. “Medina had been reported to have been shooting multiple firearms near his residence near Sheridan during the previous year and was allegedly using controlled substances.”
Medina told investigators the deer was not the only wildlife he had shot and killed within the past two years.
In February 2015, a warrant was issued for Medina’s arrest and in March he was indicted by a federal grand jury. Federal authorities coordinated with the SCSO and Medina was arrested without incident. In May 2015, Medina pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of firearms.
In addition to the prison time, U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson ordered Medina to successfully complete a 500-hour residential drug abuse program while imprisoned and refrain from using controlled substances. Upon release from prison, Medina will be required to complete a 60-month supervised probationary period.
The wildlife related charges were suspended after Medina was sentenced in federal court. An agreement was reached with Medina’s spouse to forfeit the poached deer heads and other wildlife related items to the WGFD.
Adell, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ATF, worked with members of the public and personnel from other agencies including the SCSO, Sheridan County Attorney’s Office and WGFD Wildlife Forensic Laboratory while conducting the investigation. Adell also said the successful prosecution would not have been possible without the cooperation of these agencies and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stu Healy.